Occupation: Commissioner, Big Ten Conference
With stunning speed and negotiating savvy, this commissioner has put the Park Ridge-based Big Ten out front of a sea change in college athletics: the super-conference, or the massive conglomeration of schools that equals massive TV audiences. He has ignored detractors who complain that by swallowing up teams like Rutgers and Maryland, he’s busting up centuries-old rivalries and regional pride. Love him or hate him, Delany has positioned the $280 million Big Ten—buoyed by its influential TV network—to challenge the Southeastern Conference as the most powerful contingent in college sports.
Photograph: JIM PRISCHING/CHICAGO TRIBUNE